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Notes from the IABBS
(excerpts from the magazine)
by Jim Betts

Boat Builder Not Guilty
In Public Nudity Case

Yes, that was the headline in the Chicago newspaper after my hearing in police court. Let me tell it to you as I told it to the judge. I had been building a 21-foot sloop at the Chicago Parks Department's indoor craft center where the Chicago chapter of IABBS had a number of projects going. I had rubbed up against some wet epoxy. Driving home, I felt a hot spot on my leg. T reached down to find a very sticky area on my pants. I knew what it was - curing epoxy. I knew that I had to get those pants off or I would wear them the rest of my life. So I pulled into a disabled vehicle area on the Outer Drive, hopped out, took off the pants, which took some pulling to get them away from my skin.

As you might expect, a police car pulled in. Like a deer caught in the headlights, I stood necked from the waist down. (No undershorts.) I was taken to the station and booked for indecent exposure. Released on my own recognizance, I was allowed to go home wearing a pair of prisoner pants. (A $25 deposit was required.)

In court later, the charge was dismissed on the basis that this was the best excuse the judge had ever heard. (Besides, he was familiar with epoxy.)

A Prior Record Comes Back to Haunt Me

However, it came to light that I had a record. "Driving with obscured vision." This crime happened when I had driven to the building center some weeks before with the lofting for the boat on a 4x8 sheet of Masonite tied to the top of my MGB. The sheet was about bigger than the car and was tied to the bumpers at the corners. That was a $50 ticket. (Amateur boat building does have hidden costs.) Oh, yes, the boat got built and did well in the Chicago Yacht Club MORC series. (You may see this boat, the Home Maid, in a future issue.)

The Crime Spree Continues

Some months later, I was arrested along with two members of the Chicago chapter of IABBS, for stealing a boat. "The fact is. your honor, that these two had built a Snipe sailboat in the third-floor apartment of one of them. We were simply lowering the boat out the window to a trailer in the alley." (We had to remove the double window, frame and all.) The judge pulled my file of boat-related crimes and dismissed the charges, but observed, "I have always wanted to build a boat, but if you are representative of amateur builders - I think not."

Things Get Explosive Thanks to Ferrocement

The next time I was a victim of the anti-boats court was when I helped build a ferrocement boat at the Annapolis In-water Boat Show. (I knew ferrocement boats were bad news.) A lucky(?) person won the finished hull, but never claimed it. (Smarter than he was lucky.) So we had to get rid of it. The
trouble with "rock boats" is that you can't take them apart, saw them up, or burn them. So we towed it out into Chesapeake Bay and set off five sticks of dynamite and sank it. The USCG and the water cops looked into this, but never found us. (I am sure the statute of limitations has run out.)

My next run-in with the law was at the New York Boat Show. IABBS had an exhibit up on the fourth floor. Along with other stuff, we had an 8-ft. dinghy. When the show closed, we threw everything into the dinghy and carried it down the stairs and tied it to the top of the "getaway car". Unfortunately, we had gone out a fire exit and set off an alarm. The security guards and police came. In night court, we explained that we were simply trying to beat the union labor charges for exhibit removal. Little did we know that the police and security guards were union men! The charges were dismissed by ajudge who was a boat owner.

Why Boat Types Need Faster Cars

My next arrest was for driving a lawyer friend's daughter's Blue-J sailboat - on a trailer - from one parking lot at the Larchmont YC to another lot about two blocks away. The trailer did not have a license tag. So I was nabbed and the fine was $100. (The lawyer did pay the fine.) But my boat related criminal record was getting longer - five arrests and one conviction. I was what the police call a
"known offender."

Then things got worse. I have a USCG builder number. Though I am not - for the moment - building boats, I am ready. But the CG seems to share its records with the state of New Jersey, so I received a notice about the Right To Know Law. (This has to do with filing reports with the police and fire department about any hazardous chemicals used in the workplace.) In addition to the reports, they require you to pay $100 a year for you to rat on yourself. The only chemicals in my office are a small bottle of rubber cement and a (larger) bottle of Scotch. Nonetheless, I was fined $50 for failing to report, plus the $100 fee. (My second conviction.)

Well, so long as I have a permit and all that, I may as well go ahead and build a boat. Now plywood is expensive, but just up the street they are building a new house and there's a lot of it just sitting out there, at night and unguarded. But I must stop now because the guard is coming to pick up the mail.